WASHINGTON — A congressional committee that includes two Colorado congressmen approved a bill Wednesday that would give states greater control over rights to extract oil and gas from federal land.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is a supporter of the bill, called the Secure American Energy Act.

A controversy over the legislation is whether states would adequately protect the environment or seek first to maximize their income from oil and gas leases.

The bill includes two components, one for onshore mineral extraction and the other for offshore extraction along coastal states.

Tipton spent most of his time during a hearing Tuesday of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources discussing the Onshore Act component.

“We love our land,” Tipton, R-Cortez, said. “We want clean land, we want clean water and we want resource development to be done right.”

Colorado is one of 11 Western states where the federal government owns an average of about half the land.

The Onshore Act would authorize states with established environmental regulatory programs to manage some federal permitting and regulatory responsibilities for oil and gas development on federal properties.

Tipton asked an expert witness during the hearing whether federal regulations duplicate state regulations that already protect the environment adequately.

Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, said many of his state’s environmental rules protect the environment better than requirements of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The state rules forbid venting of pollutants like hydrocarbons and methane during oil and gas extraction. The Bureau of Land Management will allow the venting in some cases, Helms said.

Other state regulations control hydraulic fracturing, gas capture and building of dikes more strictly than federal rules, he said.

Helms said state regulators could complete environmental reviews and determine whether corporations should be granted oil and gas permits in as little as 20 days.

The federal government can take nine months for the permitting process, thereby delaying new income for local economies, he said.

“States have to balance their budgets so we feel the effect of these revenue delays,” Helms said.

North Dakota is a major oil-producing state, which Tipton said bore similarities to Colorado.

Recent reports from the World Energy Council and the U.S. Geological Survey say huge untapped deposits of shale oil likely lie under the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. They are part of the Green River Formation, which is one of the world’s richest shale oil deposits, the reports indicate.

Shale oil refers to oil extracted from sedimentary rock called shale. Until technology for extracting it improved in recent years, most of the world’s oil came from crude oil found in deep underground deposits of the Middle East and elsewhere.

A separate issue discussed during the hearing Tuesday was whether coastal states should be given greater authority to lease offshore oil drilling rights to corporations.

Opening the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to more oil drilling would create 840,000 jobs and add about $200 billion in new revenue to the economy, according to supporters of the proposal, which includes the American Petroleum Institute.

It is strongly opposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that says oil and gas exploitation would pollute coastal waters and kill marine animals.

Part of the exploration could include seismic testing that uses sonic devices, called sonar. Environmentalists say the sonar could hurt marine life but other experts say the damage to the animals would be minimal.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, questioned whether opponents of the sonar are concealing a secret motivation to block oil exploration and drilling.

The committee approval of the legislation, or markup, means it now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote.

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